Is lying on references criminal?

Question from Beaten and Weary updated on 22nd January 2013:

Is it a crime to lie on references for tenants?

Our expert Megan Martin responded:

The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (the Act) applies only to the relationship between a landlord and tenant, it does not cover the relationship between a landlord (or a tenant) and a third party who provides a reference for a tenant. The Act does, however, provide for the Tenancy Tribunal to set aside a tenancy agreement where it appears that an agreement has been induced by fraud or misrepresentation. If you believe that this has occurred, you may apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter determined. Parties can also seek advice from their local community law centre, about what consequences or recourse is available where false information is provided on a reference and whether such action amounts to a criminal offence.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

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